Toast Cannibal: Culture Shock and the “Exotic” in Intercultural Reality Television

Jelle Mast, An Helene Kuppens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In the past decade, there has been an abundance of representations of the cultural Other or the 'exotic' in popular factual television, often in the form of an arranged intercultural encounter. The present article elaborates a case study of a particularly meaningful instance of such highly debated 'intercultural reality programmes': the format Ticket to the Tribes, which has 'ordinary' Flemish families immerse themselves in the culture and lifestyle of so-called 'primitive' tribes. Based on an interpretive formal-thematic analysis of three seasons of Ticket to the Tribes and in-depth interviews with a senior production member and two Flemish participants of the programme, we argue that Ticket to the Tribes is premised on the concept of culture shock, and that this informs the exoticization and exoticism the programme radiates. We conclude that the relationship between culture shock, exoticization and exoticism explains intercultural reality television's proliferation as a contemporary vehicle for exoticist representations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-814
Number of pages15
JournalMedia, Culture & Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012


  • culture shock
  • exoticism
  • exoticization
  • reality television
  • intercultural communication


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